Would there be a Blade Runner, The Matrix, Dark City
or even Star Wars
without Fritz Lang’s Metropolis
? The 1927 German Expressionist sci-fi masterpiece is set in a futuristic urban dystopia where the working class is clashing with evil capitalist owners. At the time, it was one of the most ambitious and expensive films ever made with an Avatar
-like budget of what would now equal about $200 million. Attempts have been made to restore the film before, but many scenes were thought to be lost or irreparably damaged in the 82 years since its release. However, a complete version of the film turned up recently in a Buenos Aires archive, and determined film preservationists worked diligently to restore 30 minutes to the original film. Now only a single scene remains lost in time.
Kino International, which recently merged with Lorber HT Digital, is planning to release Metropolis in theaters next year followed by a Blu-ray debut. No word yet on a specific date, but the restored Metropolis will premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in February, so expect a BD release sometime after that (North American cinephiles can see it at the Classic Film Festival in Hollywood on April 22-25). Although it’s too soon for a list of bonus features, you can expect detailed behind-the-scenes featurettes on the restoration process and a history of the many attempts to rebuild this iconic silent film.